King of the Coral Sea 1954

Again an Australian film – this time starring Chips Rafferty

King of the Coral Sea (1954) - IMDb

King of the Coral Sea deserves a ten score because the love and passion by all concerned in the making of this little gem shows through on the screen.

Thew film was made on a budget of around 25,000 Pounds Sterling which is a meagre budget by any standards even in those days.

Chips Rafferty produced this film, and put nearly all of his own money into it – it came good though and recouped it’s costs within 3 months and went on to make a sizeable profit.

Much of the filming was done at Green Island – just off Cairns in Queensland, Australia

King of the Coral Sea - Review - Photos - Ozmovies

King of The Coral Sea may not have the flashy Hollywood production values of a huge budget, but it does have a charm that has only increased as the years have gone by.

This film was also the screen debut of old Rod Taylor, ironically playing an American, an accent he had done often for Radio Dramas. He very soon after this had a part in ‘Long John Silver’ and from that film he was noticed by Hollywood Producers and so – off he went.

Charles Tingwell was also offered a Hollywood contract but he turned it down in favour of going to England where he forged a successful career, returning to Australia for good in the 1970’s.


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Kangaroo 1952

Kangaroo (1952)


Kangaroo  was the first big-budget US production in Australia, but was not a great success.

An Australian Style Western film by Twentieth Century-Fox brought American stars Maureen O’Hara and Peter Lawford along with other well-known actors from the US and Britain to play Aussie characters in the bush again.

The film had an American director and writer, but predictably included Chips Rafferty as the local policeman, a young Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell as a poverty-stricken stockman, Aboriginal actor Henry Murdoch in another of his many appearances as a stockman. The story was a complex one of two city conmen out to swindle Maureen O’Hara’s dad out of his cattle station. The film ticks the boxes for Australian wildlife and exotic people, but was not liked by critics for its clumsy script. It failed at the box office in both countries.

Filmink magazine said that “This film isn’t as bad as its reputation (Richard Boone is excellent as Lawford’s friend and there’s some great visuals), it’s just frustrating because it should have been better – it’s flabby and goes all over the place, Lawford is a wet fish of a leading man, and it needs more action… It would have been more entertaining if it had embraced being a Western more.

Maureen O’Hara claimed that Richard Boone and Peter Lawford were “rude and disrespectful to many Australians and to the press as a whole and the Australians came to dislike them both with a passion.” 

Maureen O’Hara wrote that 20th Century Fox told her to make a personal plea to the press not to report the arrests of Richard Boone and Peter Lawford in a gay brothel with underage boys. 

It was the first Technicolor movie filmed on-location in Australia. 

Premier Tom Playford opens 'Zanukville' and fetes Maureen O'Hara for 'Kangaroo' filming in South Australia

Tyrone Power was originally intended for the lead role of John W. Gamble which in the end was cast with another American actor, Richard Boone. Other names had been talked about – Richard Widmark and Errol Flynn and Jean Simmons in the Maureen O Hara role

Hollywood star Maureen O’Hara had to contend with swarms of flies and being “clawed something awful by a cuddly koala” during the shooting of the film Kangaroo around Port Augusta.

South Australian premier Tom Playford gave a housing estate at Port Augusta to be used by the cast and crew of 1952 American 20th Century Fox film Kangaroo. Dubbed “Zanuckville” (after producer Darryl Zanuck), the estate housed up to 150 people to shoot the first Technicolor film in Australia, directed by Lewis Milestone.

Playford also turned on a gala reception for the film’s star Maureen O’Hara (with Peter Lawford, Finlay Currie, Richard Boone, Chips Rafferty and Charles “Bud” Tingwell) when she arrived in Adelaide from Sydney in late 1950.

The film was made using Fox funds “frozen” by the Australian government under postwar restrictions. Although Kangaroo wasn’t a critical or box office success, about £446,000 was spent in South Australia on the production.

Milestone moved the setting to Port Augusta because the original New South Wales locations looked no different from Southern Arizona and California. Milestone also extended his 61-day shoot to seven months.

Problems piled on from there. Temperatures were very high in Port Augusta but rain kept occurring. The script was constantly rewritten (action changed from the 1800s to 1900) and the isolated “Zanuckville” had trouble sourcing materials, with equipment and costumes needed from Hollywood. Scenes were shot at Wolundunga Station, at the foot of Mount Brown, at pubs and places in and around Port Augusta and on a coastal ship at Moonta.

Rain wrecked Lewis Milestone’s wish to suggest drought for his key scene of an attack by water-starved kangaroos. Among other mishaps, a sound technician was paralysed after being bitten by a spider and Lawford lost 12 pounds during the shoot and his hair started to fall out. An Aboriginal group from Ooldea (also used in the Bitter Springs film) staged a special dance at Spear Creek near Port Augusta. When drought arrived, cast and crew attended a “native rain dance” and the next morning it rained, enabling the film downpour climax.

In her 2004 autobiography, O’Hara claimed Boone and Peter Lawford were “rude and disrespectful… and the Australians came to dislike them both with a passion”. She said they were arrested in a “brothel full of beautiful boys” in Melbourne but she said the studio prevented this being reported by having O’Hara make a plea to the press.

O’Hara recalled “Australians were so excited to have us there and were one of the most gracious people I have ever encountered on location” but she “cried many nights” during the shoot. “Lawford and Boone were horrible to me even though I had saved both their hides … I still had to fight off a swarm of flies for every mouthful of food. I was even clawed something awful by a cuddly little koala bear during a scheduled photo shoot.”


ABOVE – The main three actors Richard Boone, Maureen O Hara and Peter Lawford

Picture 1 of 1

A Newspaper Advertisement of the time ABOVE

It strikes me that a few tears before this another film ;Diamond City’ was made and this one was another ‘Western Style film but this time, set in South Arica. This film too was a flop at the Box Office

DIAMOND CITY 1949 David Farrar, Honor Blackman, Diana Dors UK 1-SHEET  POSTER | eBay

Then shortly after this came ‘Long John Silver’ with Robert Newton filmed in Cinemascope but this was made just North of Sydney – this one was quite successful

Long John Silver - Review - Photos - Ozmovies
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Border River 1954

A Western Directed by George Sherman

In the last days of the Civil War, Confederate officer Joel McCrea and associates rob a Union storehouse of $2,000,000. They head down to a small patch of Mexican territory controlled by renegade general Pedro Armendariz and start negotiating to turn the money into arms for the Confederacy.

This seems to have been film shot in three-strip Technicolor – and thats about as any colour film gets.

Director George Sherman, an expert in Westerns, directs the script well as you would expect

Another solid performance by Joel Mccrea. Yvonne de Carlo also adds strength to this feature.

The film portrays a turbulent time in American history

This doesn’t appear to be a well-remembered film from the era but lets hope that a forthcoming release of this on BluRay will help it become better known

Yvonne de Carlo

ABOVE – maybe a welcome break from filming – and a chance to cool down in a fairly unorthodox way – but very effective I would think

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Tarzan Escapes 1936

Another big budget Tarzan film from MGM following the success of the first Johnny Weissmuller film ‘ Tarzan the Ape Man’

This Elmo Lincoln the very first screen Tarzan visits the set and joins Johnny and Benita Hulme = she was married to Ronald Colman

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Stars and their Cars

It is well know that Peter Sellers was a car addict – over the years he owned so many

Peter Sellers with his Ferrarii

ABOVE – The first owner of this lovely Rolls Royce saloon was the renowned playwright Sir Terence Rattigan, at that time resident at 29 Eaton Square, London SW1. In February 1967 it passed into the ownership of actor Peter Sellers, who had it re-sprayed silver. The original logbook records the third private owner, from April 1971, as Benedict James Colman, another resident, like Rattigan and Sellers, of London SW1 – so it appears this vehicle never went very far.

I recall a story that Peter Seller’s son Michael told many years later – he was then a small child, of say, 6 years old and overheard his father saying that he needed the front bumper re-painting for some reason. It was probably the Rolls Royce pictured above. Michael later decided to give his Dad a nice surprise, so he found a pot of paint in the shed and a paintbrush and, in his own way, he painted the whole of one front wing. Needless to say, when Dad arrived home and saw the surprise we can say, as an understatement, that he was not well pleased

BELOW – Liz Taylor with a classic Rolls Royce

MotorTrend Logo
HotRod Logo
AutomobileMag Logo
ABOVE and BE,LOW – Diana Dors with her Car – Below On ‘This is Your Life’
FourWheeler Logo
TruckTrend Logo
Richard Todd has a very nice Jaguar here
SuperStreet Logo
Jean Simmons – A Bristol
LowRider Logo
ABOVE Richard Todd with his ‘Railton’

Diana Dors 04 1
ABOVE – Diana Dors

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz Convertible Jane Mansfield – BELOW

Jayne Mansfield

Before Jayne Mansfield signed a six-year agreement with Twentieth Century Fox, she worked various small gigs, including selling books door-to-door, as a restaurant photographer, model, dance teacher, and selling candy at a movie theatre.

In 1956 she starred in “The Girl Can’t Help It,” which interestingly enough earned more at the box office than 1953’s “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

Jane Mansfield had quite a short film career, however she did win a Golden Globe award for her appearance in the adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel, “The Wayward Bus.

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Ring of Spies 1964

A thriller from 1964 that has quite a lot of very familiar faces in the cast including Bernard Lee and Margaret Tyzack – just before she found BBC TV fame – and International fame – in ‘The Forsyte Saga’

Then running down the cast we have David Kossoff, Thorley Walters, Patrick Barr, Justine Lord who I recall from ‘Act of Murder’ one of the very best of the Edgar Wallace series – Philip Latham and further down the list Paul Eddington, Garry Marsh ( from the George Formby films), and Geoffrey Palmer

It is British spy thriller; A story about a British navy clerk assigned to a top secret research facility. He is blackmailed into stealing vital secrets for the Russians in exchange for cash. Set during the height of the Cold War, it is based on the true events of the Portland Spy Ring, where daily duels play out between Soviet Intelligence and British counter-espionage. Tension builds wthin the espionage activities which is quite absorbing.

Bernard Lee gives a solid performance in a rare leading role His ally, played by Margaret Tyzack, is initially innocent, but seems drawn into things as the story progresses.

I have to say, that the above ‘Front of House Stills’ for this film were a pretty poor selection – when trying to sell a film you would have thought that this is one area that must be concentrated on – but in the case of this film, it just seems that there was little interest or zest put into the selection.

Coming back to Margaret Tyzack who I liked – she played in the Miss Marple Episode of ‘Nemesis’ opposite Joan Hickson as Miss Marple – and they played out one wonderful and intense scene which saw them both, in my opinion at the very top of their game. Brilliant. I think this is my own favourite Miss Marple adaptation.

ABOVE – Margaret Tyzack in ‘The Forsyte Saga’
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The Mississippi Gambler 1953

This Technicolor Western is due for release on Blu Ray soon

Directed by Rudolph Maté
Starring Tyrone Power, Piper Laurie, Julie Adams, John McIntire, Paul Cavanagh, John Baer, Ron Randell, Ralph Dumke

Rudolph Maté’s The Mississippi Gambler (1953) to be released on Blu Ray Blu — and that’s good news

We could ask the question “Why is this called a Western?” Well, does it really matter !!


THE MISSISSIPPI GAMBLER is a 1953 period adventure drama. Set in the pre-Civil War days, the action takes place in and around New Orleans, and on the riverboats that paddled the regional waters.

Tyrone Power seems perfectly cast in the title role, and seems to win the admiration or envy, love or loathing of all he meets, including Piper Laurie, Paul Cavanaugh, and a batch of Universal players including —William Reynolds, Dennis Weaver, Guy Williams, Ron Randell among them.


Rudolph Mate directed with some pace with duels, brawls and a voodoo dance from Gwen Verdon .


The film is in glorious Technicolor and benefits from above-average costume design and set decor.

A running time of 99 minutes, with Julie Adams, John McIntire, John Baer, King Donovan and Anita Ekberg . A Successful production (took in over $6,600,000) and was Oscar nominated for its Sound Quality

Piper Laurie
Piper Laurie
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Little Shelford, Cambridge – The Cinema Arrives

We are now going back to the very early fifties – At that time a visit to the Cinema was a big event and when the Cinema came to your village What a thrill that would be. I can confirm that because in the Village where I live in the mid 50;s we had a ‘once a week’ professional film show with a full programme including Newsreel, Advertisements, Supporting Picture and the ‘big’ film.

However I have come across this article that centres on two brothers who, after the War, purchased equipment and set up a travelling cinema – this is the one at Little Shelford Nr Cambridge.

ABOVE – Russell Oddy is setting up the ‘film stills’ board outside of the entrance. This evening the ‘big’ picture will be ‘Mrs Miniver’ plus supporting programme

Russell hen went inside to set up the projection room and make sure that all was ok there/

The projection room was made in such a way as to eliminate the projector noise from the main hall

Russell Oddy was born in 1916 and at the age of 11 he had his own hand-cranked projector and held little shows in his father’s woodshed

ABOVE Russel’s brother Douglas was busy at the other end of the hall setting up the screen and the curtains that he made to open and shut professionally when the film programme was about to start

Outside a large crowd gathered – the Hall is next to the local Pub ‘The Chequers’ and the Pub Landlord Mr Beebe is very supportive of the venture – in fact his wife had attended and enjoyed the first house showing

ABOVE – Tickets Please !!

The audience were all given a brochure / programme on the film

ABOVE: Ice Cream is served just before the main feature

ABOVE – The queue for the ‘second house’ in the cold and rain – the rain later turned to snow

ABOVE – The second house audience is seated and ready. Just a view also at the back of the Hall of the small box like projection room which was soundproofed. Also a Poster for ‘Mrs Miniver’ on the side wall of the Hall

Much of the material above was taken from a magazine article dated March 1950 – so the pictures would have been taken just before then – maybe January or February 1950 – or even March 1950

A footnote about Russell an d Douglas Oddy

Russell had been in the forces during the War in the RAF on flying duties uin the Middle East. Later after being grounded, he worked in the Entertainments branch and after a while he was put in charge of setting up and running an open air cinema in the desert. This gave Russell the insight and interest in 16 mm films and after the War, with a budget of savings of £ 50 he and his brother Douglas who had been a Prisoner of War and had also some savings teamed up to set up the type of operation there now was at Little Shelford, Nr Cambridge.

Their first venture was at Bourn, Cambridgeshire where the programme was ‘Rainbow on the River’ and ‘Beau Chumps

After that the films steadily were more ‘up to date’ and they operated at least at a couple of locations including Little Shelford

I find this a fascinating and inspiring story

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Dangerous Cargo 1954

This is a low budget film but I found it very watchable when it appeared on Talking Pictures last weekend.

Susan Stephen is the very attractive young wife of Jack Watling, who somehow gets involved in a potential robbery at an Airport. Jack Watling works there in the freight section along with a friend played by Terence Alexander, who is not all he should be.

With a running time of about one hour and a quarter. we have to get straight into the plot and the characters and the film does that well. There are scenes quite early on in the film at the couple’s very nice country cottage which I found appealing

As you can see from the above still, the story has a happy ending

An airport security officer, Tim Matthews (Jack Watling), meets a former army mate, Harry Preston (Terence Alexander), who is employed by a master criminal called Pliny (Karel Stepanek).

Harry gets Tim into debt through gambling and then takes him to see Luigi (John Le Mesurier), Pliny’s second in command, who, of course, has the ideal solution to his problems. For £500.00, Tim will have more than enough to clear his debts but, naturally, there is a catch – Luigi demands that Tim hands over the schedule for a bullion plane’s arrival into Heathrow Airport. When Tim refuses, the gang abduct him and threaten him with his wife Jane (Susan Stephen). He then is forced to co-operate and the gang force him to act as an inside man by getting him to drug his colleagues’ tea and to gain them access to the vault where £250,000 worth of gold bullion is being stored.

This is a British thriller from ACT Productions, a company founded by the film technicians union

It went out on the Gaumont-British circuit supporting the Rita Hayworth picture, Miss Sadie Thompson in 1954.

Dangerous Cargo is better than you might expect for a second feature with director John Harlow generating some tension and suspense.

Acting-wise there are good performances from a cast that includes many familiar faces including John Le Mesurier (Dad’s Army) and Terence Alexander (Bergerac)

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Rondo Hatton

On the screen he was a thug, a convict, a leper and a psychopathic killer. Off screen, he was the son of well respected parents – he was a shy and devout man who had been an exceptional athlete, an esteemed journalist, and above all a beloved friend and wonderful husband.

Rondo Hatton achieved a distinction that survives to this day.

He played his most famous role as The Creeper towards the tail end of the Hollywood horror cycle

The ABOVE Picture story tells in very simple terms the The Rondo Hatton Story – a very sad one really for such a nice person

He later took the role of The Creeper again in ‘Brute Man’ and this seemed to be teamed up with quite a lot of different films on release, so it really was shown over and over again over a long period

ABOVE – The film trailer

Rondo Hatton began acting in films in 1930. During the 30s and 40s he was mainly seen in small roles, always cast in similar roles to The Creeper. He had contracted acromegaly after being gassed during the First world War which led to his being deformed facially and otherwise, and he won these roles because of that – What a sad fact !

In 1944 he was cast as The Hoxton Creeper in a Sherlock Holmes film, The Pearl of Death, and achieved brief stardom-or at least cult stardom-until his early death from a heart attack at age 52 in 1946 shortly after this, his last film, was released.

In real life he was a wonderful and gentle man, and a loving and loved husband. This is how he should be remembered

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